There's always a new twist as old schemes, ways, and methods are updated to modern times. That brings to mind one of the most enterprising & determined Vegas Cheats of all
time according to my book. That would be Dennis Andrew Nikrasch, AKA Dennis Sean McAndrew. Dennis, born September 12, 1941 in Chicago gets the self-taught achievement award for updating his basic skill of cheating casinos by manipulating slot machine payouts. Dennis had an uncanny ability to pick locks and it is believed that he worked in Chicago for the crime families.
He was convicted in Chicago for burglary in 1961 before moving to Vegas in 1970. In Vegas, Dennis rigged the mechanical slots during the 1970's and no one really knows how many millions he hauled off. It was estimated that he racked up $10 million between 1976 & 1979. Dennis, his wife Susan, and his brother Terrence were indicted in
1983. Brother Terrence got 15 years in 1984 while Dennis & Susan went on the lam. Both resurfaced in Las Vegas and surrendered to authorities in January of 1986. Dennis got 15 years in prison however he was paroled in January-1991 after serving only 5 years and he remained on parole until May-1996. Susan received a 1 year term. Well, it seems that you can't keep a great mind down as Dennis was planning & plotting his next move while doing time. Of course technology had moved past Dennis from mechanical slots to the
electronic computer age, but not to worry. Dennis set up shop in his Vegas garage with a newly purchased electronic slot machine and proceeded to take it apart piece by piece and put it back together again. In addition, he educated himself about computers and the "chips" that make it work. He was now re-schooled, re-tooled, and ready for action. An
accomplice from the Bruno crime family in Philadelphia by the name of Eugene A. Bulgarino, AKA Louie Turco, AKA Gigi, born June 4, 1933 in Philly, purchased a computer chip from IGT as requested by Dennis. Dennis was able to decipher the info from the practice slot machine and obtain the necessary combinations so as to load up the slot with the jackpot sequence. Sometime in 1996, Dennis, his associates, and his hired hands were ready for the real slot machines and they hit the Vegas casinos.
According to info obtained after the fact, the cheating went as follows:
The associates would scope out a machine that had minimum security camera surveillance; confederates would play the machine regular to keep real customers from tying up the machine; after a period of time, Dennis would join the group and while they shielded Dennis from camera view, Dennis would open
the machine, access the chip to obtain the necessary coding, and rig the chip to come up with a jackpot; the entourage would then leave the casino and their selected accomplice WINNER would then magically hit the JACKPOT on the next spin! Authorities do not know exactly how many jackpots, cars, and prizes that the group won, as no trail existed within the slots computer!
Here's a list of five known rigged winners:
Sep-1996 $200,500 at Excalibur won by James BULGARINO
May 24, 1997 $30,000 at Rio won by Louise Melendez
July 4, 1997 $3,700,000 at Harrahs won by Linda BULGARINO
Oct 18, 1997 at Luxor '07 Jaguar auto won by Ronica Tweedi
Nov-1997 at Luxor $1,700,000 won by Debra Capozzi BULGARINO
After their arrest on June 9, 1998 authorities found computer chips and burglary tools when they searched a safe deposit box and a storage shed used by Dennis Nikrasch. Eugene Bulgarino got 3 years 10 months; wife Joan Mae Bulgarino got 4 months jail and 4 months house arrest; Ronnie Gale McElveen got 2 years and 9 months and the mastermind Dennis Nikrasch , just two years after being released from parole for the last slot scam, was sentenced to 7 1/2 years. Nikrasch & Bugarino were both added to the Vegas Black Book of Banned from the Casinos on September 24, 2004. Dennis is out now; do you think you might run into him in a casino some day?